Big 5 appoints new interim director

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DURANT, OK -- A new leader will take the reins of Big 5 Community Services next week.

The board approved the appointment 8-3 of Kent Watson as interim executive director Wednesday.

It's one step in the process as the organization attempts to start over.

"We're here to serve the entire community. And we just want to move forward," Watson said. "The first thing we're gonna be doing is I'm going to be visiting all of centers, visiting with our employees, making sure that we're focused not on ourselves, but how we serve the community."

He replaces Frances Pelley, hired as interim director in December through a contract with America Forward Consulting - a firm hired to steer the company through a financial and publicity rough patch.

"I wasn't anticipating necessarily having to make some of the tough decisions we had to make, but it was exactly what we needed to do to get the board moving forward," Pelley said.

Pelley was appointed for a three month term - which turned into six.

"We found a lot of things we needed to address. And as we worked through those changes, it was appropriate for me to stay a little longer," she said.

But the three dissenting votes to Watson's appointment weren't happy with the process.

Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson said at the meeting he isn't happy they didn't open the position up to outside candidates.

Tomlinson declined to comment after the meeting.

But Watson said they'll hold a full search for a permanent director once his term - and the contract with AFC - ends in April.

"It's gonna be all about a culture of selflessness and service, and we're excited to move forward," he said.

At the end of the day, Pelley handed over the keys. And the board handed Pelley an award for her service.

"The services that this organization delivers to the families it serves are really making a difference in lives," Pelley said.

While the board disagreed on the process, they were all very happy with the new director. And members say that's a step in the right direction.

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